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Saturday 16 December 2017

Feek: Furlong has target on his back

Greg also backs Rog for Crusaders gig

Tadhg Furlong has received fulsome praise
from coach Greg Feek. Photo: Sportsfile
Tadhg Furlong has received fulsome praise from coach Greg Feek. Photo: Sportsfile

Former Crusaders and All Blacks prop Greg Feek was an open book when it came to the prospect of Ronan O'Gara moving from Racing 92 to his Super Rugby champions.

"Rog would slide in like a hand in a glove," said Feek, about the possibility of the cross-hemisphere education of O'Gara.

"It is a credit to him that he's been approached.

"If you get the right people into the Crusaders environment, then that's a win straight away."

O'Gara is doing what every serious coach should do in putting in the years learning the craft rather than jumping straight into the deep end of a very limited poll of choices.

He is smart enough to know he isn't ready yet to be 'The Man.'

"In terms of the knowledge you have, that will come. And in terms of how you coach, that will come," said Feek.

Welcome

"Players will welcome him in with open arms if he goes there. The only thing he might need is an interpreter.

"Apart from that, I think he will enjoy it."

The overall takeaway by O'Gara from his time in the Ireland camp in America is that he has a lot to learn about that side of the game.

Afterall, the level of coaching knowledge available in France is mediocre at best.

"I got to know him really well in New York.

"I forgot I was chatting to a guy who played over 100 tests for Ireland.

"He doesn't have a big ego. If it ends up happening, fair play to him."

When asked to declare his opinion as to the best tight-head prop in world rugby, Ireland scrum coach Feek closed up.

He point-plank refused to increase the size of the target on Tadhg Furlong's back.

"I will let you guys decide that and I'll just get on with what I do," he said.

"Obviously, he was with the Lions. We'll always find something that he likes to work on.

"He has done really well. But there is probably a target on his back and he's just got to handle that.

"I enjoy his attitude. I enjoy the way he is, in terms of how he goes about preparing for rugby, who he is as a person.

"It is difficult to talk about because we are all trying to keep level and everyone gets treated the same."

However, he did let his guard down enough to wax lyrically about the Wexford man.

"He is a guy who has just got so much energy," issued Feek.

"He can run all day; talk all day. One thing that is just contagious is that he loves seeing his team-mates do something really well.

"He thinks deeply about things, in terms of what's needed for the game.

"He is very astute in that way. He wants to get things right and he has that hunger to learn.

"He knows the last couple of years have been massive. You want that to keep building.

"All the top players you work with, they always feel a little uncomfortable, even when they are going well.

"And he's no different."

What Feek does is as good as, or better than, anyone else in the game. He turned the Leinster scrum into a game-changing tool for Joe Schmidt, making the necessary adjustments at half-time in the middle of the miracle comeback that was the 16-point deficit against Northampton Saints in the 2011 European Cup final.

He even double-jobbed for a while as scrum doctor for the Blues and Ireland.

This part of the Irish set-piece is one of the best in the game, despite the limited personnel, if not limitations of the personnel, he has to work with each week.

Worked

Feek has worked extensively with the British & Irish Lions test tight-head Furlong and loose-head Jack McGrath as well as the reborn Cian Healy.

There is also the improvement of Munster duo Dave Kilcoyne and John Ryan and the sudden rise of Andrew Porter.

Ireland's latest challenge is to make ready for the natural power and passion of Argentina.

It will need all of Ireland's eight-piece scrum working in unison to control the Pumas.

"I sometimes reference scrums to referred pain," he said.

"You might get a pain in your hamstring, but it's coming from your lower back.

"In the scrum, it's quite similar. When there's an issue somewhere the cause could be coming from somewhere else."

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